King Charles III is learning the hard way that leaving it too late to finalize a big soiree is a bad idea. As the newly ascended British monarch prepares for his coronation on May 6, the palace is reportedly struggling to book A-list British entertainers to mark the historic event, with many citing busy schedules to explain their absence.
That’s a sharp break from the last major royal celebrations in June to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, or 70 years on the throne, before she died aged 96 in September. A star-studded concert at Buckingham Palace had featured Queen + Adam Lambert, Diana Ross, Alicia Keys, Elton John, Craig David, Elbow, Sir Rod Stewart, Celeste, and other big names.
The May 6 coronation will see Charles crowned alongside Camilla, the Queen Consort, at Westminster Abbey. The next day, coronation lunches are due to take place in communities across Britain before an evening concert at Windsor Castle. The King has pledged a less extravagant ceremony, partly in response to the cost-of-living crisis.
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The last coronation, Queen Elizabeth’s in 1953, was the first one to be fully televised and was watched by 27 million people in the U.K., and millions more around the world. The event became a monumental day in British—and global—history.
Here’s what we know about the artists who will and won’t be performing at the coronation concert.
Who has turned the palace down?
A royal source told British tabloid The Sun that “organizers are working against the clock to pull together an exciting line-up but have hit a series of challenges.” Elton John and Harry Styles—reportedly top picks for Charles—declined invitations to perform, citing scheduling conflicts. John, a lifelong friend of the late Princess Diana, will reportedly be deep into a European tour and cannot justify the excursion, while Styles, who is also touring, would not be able to get his band together during their downtime.
Additionally, Ed Sheeran will reportedly be too busy preparing for an upcoming gig in Houston, Texas, to take up Charles’ offer. Meanwhile, Adele—who is now based in the U.S.—has declined the offer for unspecified reasons.
In January, rumors emerged of a Spice Girls reunion with all five original members taking place at the coronation concert. But according to The Sun, the iconic British girl band will not be performing due to lack of rehearsal time for Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Horner, Emma Bunton, and Victoria Beckham.
One of the more surprising rejections came from Robbie Williams, whose former Take That band members Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, and Mark Owen are set to headline the concert. Williams also cited scheduling conflicts when turning down the opportunity.
Who is set to perform at the coronation?
Aside from Take That—minus its lead band member—other acts expected to perform include Kylie and Dannii Minogue, musical theater giant Andrew Lloyd Webber, and U.S. Motown legend Lionel Richie. British musician and The X Factor alumnus Olly Murs is also expected to join the lineup but is yet to be confirmed.
A Coronation Choir will also play a prominent role in the concert, bringing together choir groups from across the U.K. such as refugee choirs, NHS choirs, LGBTQ+ singing groups, and deaf singing choirs.
While overall performance arrangements haven’t been especially fruitful so far, viewers around the world can still bank on the British royal family’s pageantry as a primary source of entertainment on the day.
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